Working closely with students, you may encounter distressed students needing additional assistance coping with the pressures and challenges they are facing. You may play a crucial role in identifying and referring these distressed students for professional help. Following are some frequently asked questions about emotional distress….
1. What are some of the signs indicating a possible counseling referral?
The following may indicate the need for a referral to counseling services:
- Suicidal thoughts (e.g. referring to suicide as a current option or indirect reference to suicide or death)
- Wanting to hurt others
- Bizarre/inappropriate behavior and/or garbled disjointed thoughts
- Highly disruptive behavior (e.g., aggression toward other people, violent outbursts, disruptions of class or work)
- Abrupt changes in behavior or appearance
- Uncertainty & anxiety about emotional stability, family situation and/or relationship problems
- Normal emotions displayed for a prolonged period of time at an extreme degree
- Increased irritability
- Know or suspect alcohol/drug abuse
- Dependency (e.g., wants other to take care of him/her)
- Infrequent class attendance
- Never leaving the dorm
- Issues with anger
- Fatigue, lack of energy
2. How do I make a referral to a student?
- Talk to the student in private
- Listen to thoughts and feelings, allowing the student to talk
- Avoid criticizing, judging, and/or giving advice
- Explore options instead of trying to “fix it” for the student
- Emphasize that seeking help is a sign of health and maturity, not weakness
- Contact counseling services for consultation if the student resists help and you are concerned about what to do
- Encourage the student to contact the counseling center to make an appointment
3. What does the counseling center have to offer?
During an initial interview a counselor will assess the student’s needs and determine what services will be appropriate. The following options are explored:
- Further assessment
- Individual, group, and/or couples counseling
- Assessment by a psychiatrist
- Referral to other departments or services
4. What services are offered by the counseling center?
- Crisis intervention
- Individual counseling
- Couple counseling
- Group counseling
- Consultation with a psychiatrist
- Outreach programs
- Other appropriate referrals
5. If I refer a student to counseling, should I follow-up by calling the counseling center?
We understand that you will be interested in the problems of the student you have referred, but we are bound by the principles of confidentiality as defined by the Code of Ethics & Standards of the American Counseling Association.
6. What can’t the counseling center tell me?
- Say whether a student is being seen or has kept an appointment
- Discuss the content of sessions
- Discuss treatment plans or progress
Students may decide it is in their best interest to have the counseling center share information with faculty, staff, family, or significant others. This can be done after the student signs written consent, being sure she/he understands the purpose and content of any disclosure. The exception is when we determine that imminent danger exists to the student or to others. In this case, we will inform the appropriate individuals.
7. What can the counseling center tell me?
- Answer questions concerning steps to take in assisting students in coming to counseling services
- Offer information about psychological concerns or problems in general
8. What do I do in emergency situations?
If the situation is an emergency and you feel that the student is going to hurt themselves or someone else you need to:
- Call Public Safety (859-985-3333) and let them know there is an individual who is going to hurt themselves or someone else.
- After Public Safety is contacted call Counseling Services (859-985-3212)
If the student is not in imminent danger of physically harming themselves or others then you should:
- Call Counseling Services stating, “This is an emergency and the student with me needs an appointment right away.” OR, walk the student to Counseling Services to make sure he or she is seen right away.
If the College Counseling Center is closed and you have an emergency, contact Public Safety (859-985-3333) and the Student Life team member on duty (859-200-5300). They will make sure the student is safe and contact one of the counselors.